She is a hundred years old
Or sixty
A slow tortoise
Slogging down a tawny beach
With a hundred colors
Slung over her shoulders
Across her back
Tied in a jangly turban on her head
Gems and stones
Some fake some real
All them discovered and
Threaded together
By weathered brown hands
One piece sold
Means a tortilla to eat
Two pieces a slight lunch
Three or four a miracle
Under parasols
And palm trees
The lazy lucky rich ones
Shoo her away
Time and time again
While the tortoise goes on
Her babies
And their babies
And their babies' babies
Starving at home
Mewling for milk
Gasping for air
The sounds out of their mouth
Sheer as a frail scarf
A hiss
Almost as if they're repeating
The same word over and over—
Silver
Silver
Bring me silver, please?

     

Stealing Baby Formula

Stealing baby formula
Is not as easy as you think
The aisles have eyes
The racks are cameras
The junk food wrappers are a caravan of spies
Stealing baby formula in a mercado
Is a ticket to a barred room
Beatings
Separation anxiety
Revisiting motives
But the baby formula is here
And the baby is way over there
Where you left it
The clerk has a gun beneath the counter
The floor is slick with spilled soda
Leftover blood
And piss
The air spiced like tamales
Flood lights buzzing
Flickering like lightning or Morse code
And still you do it
Stuff and run
Fast as a frightened gecko
Never turning back
Not sure if
The gunshots are real
Or imagined
Each twhack! a reminder that
You're under constant attack
That, thank God,
Or thank someone,
You've at least
Made it this far

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans. His work appears widely in print and online journals. His story collection, The Dark Sunshine, debuted from Connotation Press in 2014. You can also find him at lenkuntz.BlogSpot.com